PDF readers are important. They let you view official documents, store receipts, read e-books, fill out forms, and all kinds of other stuff. Most people only need them a few times a year, especially during tax season. There really isn’t a standalone PDF-reading device out there, but with apps, almost any electronic device can become one. Here are the best apps to turn almost any current electronic into a PDF reader!
Google PDF Reader
Google PDF Reader is probably the best free PDF reader for simple use cases. It doesn’t have a ton of features, but it allows people to easily open, view, search, and scroll through PDFs. It’s technically part of Google Drive’s platform along with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and the actual Drive app, but it doesn’t show up in the app drawer like the others. You can’t fill any forms out or use any auto-scroll features, but it will open the document you downloaded from the internet a few minutes ago without problems. It’s also completely free.
Price: Free / $4.99 / Up to $100
Moon+ Reader is one of the most popular and success e-book readers on Android. It also handles PDFs quite well. This one is mostly useful for e-book reading. It supports various e-book formats (including PDF) and also has page turn animations, text customization, auto-scrolling, swipe gestures, and more. The pro version adds more theming, Bluetooth and headset controls, password protection, annotations, and an extra widget. It’s free for most features and $4.99 for the extra stuff. There are also additional purchasing options.
Xodo PDF Reader
Xodo PDF Reader is probably the best totally free PDF reader for Android, though it takes a more business-oriented approach. It features PDF annotating, form filling, form signing, support for Android’s multi-window feature, a tabbed layout for multiple PDFs, a night mode, Samsung S-Pen support, cloud support, and all kinds of other stuff. It also has a web component for use on Windows, Mac, and PC. It’s really hard to find something wrong with this one. It works really well. The app is available in the Microsoft Store for Windows as well on the iOS App Store for iPhone and iPad.
iPhone and iPad
Price: Free / $4.99 per month / $49.99 per year
CamScanner is one of the better business PDF readers. Its biggest feature is PDF creation, which lets you scan documents with your phone camera to create a PDF file. This is great for digitizing documents for email or just in general. Additionally, it has faxing, sharing, collaboration features, advanced editing, password protection support, syncing, and much more. It’s not great for reading PDFs that already exist, but it’s among the best at creating PDFs. The free version comes with basic features. The subscription unlocks everything.
GoodReader is one of the most unique PDF readers for iPhone and iPad. It features most of the basic stuff like PDF annotation, form filling and signing features, text to speech, and page management. It also supports syncing, Touch ID support, iCloud support, cloud storage and network storage support, and tons of other stuff. Perhaps its most unique feature is support for Bluetooth pedals, which works best for musicians during live performances. That’s a feature you don’t see everyday. The app doesn’t have a free version, but it’s only $4.99.
Price: Free / Up to $3.99
KyBook 2 is an e-book reader app with PDF support. It also supports files types like TXT, RTF, DJVU, CBR and CBZ (comic books), EPUB, and more. It’s competent at reading whatever e-book files you use. The app also includes cloud support (including iCloud), various customization features, a speed reading feature, audio book support, and even translation. This is obviously geared more for reading than business use. However, it has every ebook reading feature that you would want and more. It’s also relatively inexpensive for the pro version, at around $3.99. The free version still works pretty well too.
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Price: Free / $12.99-$14.99 per month
Adobe Acrobat Reader is easily one of the most popular PDF readers on any platform. It has a ton of features and it’s also decent for both reading and business uses. The free version of the app has most of the stuff you need.We wouldn’t recommend it as a serious e-book reader, but it’s good enough for things like manuals, guides, spec sheets, and the like. It features search, text reflow, support for every type of PDF file, and more. Most of the features are free, but a subscription to the pro version adds more advanced ones. For most people, the subscription is really only required if you handle PDFs all the time. The free version should be good enough for occasional business use or reading a PDF file.
This is also available for Mac, Android, iPhone, and iPad. The subscription should work on every device as long as you’re signed into your Adobe account.(We also recommend you not install the McAfee bloatware when you go to the download page. It’s a bad idea. )
Price: Free / $159.99
Nitro PDF is among the most powerful PDF readers on Windows. It’s also among the most expensive. The app boasts compatibility with basically every type of PDF. Additionally, it can create universally compatible PDFs for use in other places. Some of its features include PDF conversion, PDF editing, OCR support, collaboration features, form filling, form signing, and plenty of others. This one is for productivity only. We definitely wouldn’t recommend it for e-book reading or anything like that. There is a free trial with a $159.99 payment for the full version. It seems expensive, but that’s just a year’s worth of Adobe Acrobat subscription fees added up to one cost, so it’s actually pretty competitive.
Microsoft Edge is the default browser on Windows 10. As it turns out, it’s also the default PDF reader on Windows. This one doesn’t have a ton of fancy features, but sometimes all those features are unnecessary. This works great for scrolling through a quick document, checking out a spec sheet, or searching quickly through a manual. It doesn’t have enough features to justify it as an e-book reader or a business PDF app. However, it is entirely free and gets the job done. It’s also already installed on your Windows PC and not taking up any additional space.
iSkysoft PDF Editor
Price: Free trial / $59.95-$99.95 per month
iSkySoft PDF Editor is one of the more powerful PDF readers for Mac. You can do basically whatever you want with it. That includes editing PDFs, filling out forms, PDF conversion, and it even has encryption features. The more expensive version also includes redaction features, OCR, batch processing, and some other fun tools. It’s fairly expensive, but, again, add up the cost of most PDF reader subscriptions and then see how it compares. After a year, this is actually cheaper than many other options. It’s mostly for productivity and business use, so we would not recommend it for just reading the occasional book, manual, spec sheet, or what have you.
Preview is the stock PDF reader for Mac devices. It’s also surprisingly powerful and useful. It features a lot of productivity stuff, including text addition, form filling, form signing, and other viewing options. It works well as both a reader and a productivity tool. However, it skews more toward productivity than leisure activity. It’s a stock Mac app, which means it has the benefit of already being on your machine for free. That makes it hard to recommend other stuff. It works best for simple and intermediate tasks, but falls flat when it comes to more advanced stuff.
Skim isn’t the most popular PDF reader on Mac, but it is definitely among the best. It includes support for some rarer use cases, like SyncTex, LaTex, and PDFSync. It also does the basic stuff like text highlighting, note taking, annotations, AppleScript support, and integration with some third party apps. The UI is a little old, but it gets the job done. The app is also free, small, and light on your resources. You can read PDFs here, but Preview is a little better for that.
Linux (some distros, anyway)
Evince is a popular PDF reader for Linux. It’s a fork of Gpdf and, we think, much better than Gpdf itself. The app is available on a variety of distros, including Debian (and Debian forks), Gentoo, Arch, and several others. It’s actually the stock PDF app on Fedora and Mandrive, which makes it much easier to find. The app supports a ton of file types, including PDF, Postscript, DJVU, TIFF, DVI, XPS, SyncTex, and even comic book formats. It also does the basic stuff like search, print, and encrypted document viewing. Evince is open source and entirely free.
Okular is another big name in PDFs on Linux. It supports a ton of distros — including Debian distros, Fedora, FreeBSD, Arch, Mandriva, openSUSE, and about a dozen others — which probably contributes a lot to its popularity. The app supports a variety of document formats. It’s geared a little more toward productivity than e-book reading, but supports many e-book formats like comic books, EPUB, and others. It’s good for both use cases, the UI isn’t hard to learn either, and, like most Linux PDF readers, it’s completely free.
Zathura is a bit of a diamond in the rough. It’s not overly popular, but it is actually pretty good. It supports a decent number of distros, including Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, openSUSE, OpenBSD, and Arch. The app’s most unique feature is its format support. It doesn’t package every single file format with the app, but you can download plugins that add support for various types. This is great for users who like to hyper customize their readers or who just don’t have a ton of space. Some other features include SyncTex support, keyboard hotkey support, and some other customization features. This one works best for e-book reading rather than productivity. It’s also free.
If we missed any great PDF reader apps for any of these platforms, tell us about it in the comments!